Cargill’s chocolate and cocoa president welcomes sustainability progress
TAFISSOU IVORY COAST AFRICA
Harold Poelma, president of Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business, has welcomed progress made in the company’s key 2021 Sustainability Progress Report, writes Neill Barston.
The business has placed a renewed emphasis on improving its environmental impact in recent years, including support for key agricultural communities within West Africa serving the confectionery supply chain.
According to its latest sustainability report, the company is now assisting over 244,000 farmers across Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Brazil, up from 169,000 in 2020.
As previously reported, the company said it had used GPS to map the polygon farm boundaries of 64% of all farmers participating in the Cargill Cocoa Promise programme, designed to offer enhanced levels of support to communities.
These polygon mapping techniques are considered important because of its precise ability to map and monitor the individual sources of cocoa, which are frequently very small farms.
Reflecting on the its latest sustainability report, Poelma acknowledged that one of the key considerations for solving major issues of child labour and deforestation in supply chains was in major collaborative action to drive impact.
“As a company operating in today’s interconnected world, it’s our responsibility to create long-term value for all. Key events in 2021 underlined our commitment to sustainability – with COP26 centralising important agreements to address the climate crisis and the International Labor Organisation and Alliance 8.7 marking 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, calling for a greater sense of urgency from governments and the industry to protect children.
More ambitious actions plans are needed to effectively tackle the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges, especially in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cargill’s ability to respond to environmental and social challenges is shaping our company now, just as it has over the past 150 years. Taking action is integrated into the way we do business, enabling every employee to bring our purpose to life. This year’s Cocoa and Chocolate Sustainability Progress Report clearly shows how the integration of sustainability issues continues to evolve in the sector and within our business.
“Across the board, our supply chain initiatives are more comprehensive than ever, taking action on multiple sustainability topics. For example, we support the empowerment of women with technical training and access to finance and we provide farmers with agroforestry support; both initiatives contribute to more solid and diversified household incomes.
“Supply chain due diligence offers an important tool for transparency, continuous improvement, and accountability in supply chains. Due diligence requirements, if designed appropriately, can reinforce the way companies develop solutions together with suppliers and other partners. Technology supports our efforts as it enables transparency and traceability of cocoa and chocolate for us, our customers, and their consumers. To date, the cocoa in our direct supply chain is traceable to the first point of purchase. This year, 117,111 farmers in our direct supply chain are delivering cocoa through first-mile digital traceability systems, up from 89,399 last year. Additionally, we continue to lead in sourcing certified sustainable cocoa, which represents almost half of all the cocoa we source.”
He added that its tools such as CocoaWise, provide visibility on provenance and impact and have been enriched with more features, such as cocoa and chocolate product carbon footprints.
As Poelma noted, progress in cocoa communities has proven to not be straightforward as issues remain highly interconnected.
He added: “Collaboration and joint evaluation of progress remain vitally important. This was my last year as chair of the European Cocoa Association, a role I was honoured to serve as, and which made me believe even more strongly in driving transformation together.
“The impact we make through dialogue, sharing learnings, and working together is far greater than the sum of its parts. It already shows in partnerships such as the Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF) and the Early Learning and Nutrition Facility (ELAN), led by Jacobs Foundation, the Cocoa & Forest Initiative, and the Roadmap to Deforestation-free Cocoa in Cameroon that was launched in 2021. I stay optimistic thanks to efforts such as the EU cocoa talks, the sector welcoming the European policies, and producing country government initiatives like national traceability systems and landscape approaches.”
He concluded that the business remains committed to transparency within its own operations and across global supply chains. Consequently, it is set to produce further ESG reports in late 2022, noting that ‘steady progress’ was being made to support a thriving cocoa sector.